UAE pay hikes: Which sectors will get biggest raises in 2016?

Employees in the UAE can expect their incomes to rise in 2016, but the hikes will be quite nominal unless you fall in the category of the top performers and are employed in a sector that is doing relatively well than other industries.

Over the course of this year, different recruitment firms in the country predicted the pay hikes that employees can expect next year. Let’s take a look at what the most prominent ones said.

Towers Watson


According to the latest Towers Watson’s salary budget planning report, UAE and GCC employees are set to get a pay rise of an average 4.8 per cent in 2016. This marks a return to 2014 when the pay hikes were the same and is expected to be marginally lower than this year.

Laurent Leclère, Senior Consultant and Data Services Lead for the Middle East says that “pay growth is now being driven by the bigger picture; factors such as the competition for talent, growth expectations and also the shifting weight of base salary or guaranteed cash within the overall reward package against other elements such as car allowances and performance-related bonuses. In the Middle East, allowances are very prevalent and can be a substantial portion of the reward package.”

Aon Hewitt


Consultancy Aon Hewitt predicts that UAE firms project a 5 per cent increase in pay in 2016, up from the 4.8 per cent projection made for 2015. In terms of actual increases for 2015, the UAE recorded a 4.8 per cent increase.

For the GCC, Aon Hewitt expects pay hikes will average 5 per cent in 2016, down from an anticipated 6 per cent in 2013, 5.5 per cent in 2014, and 5.1 per cent in 2015.

The quoted figure is based on a survey of 600 multinational companies and locally-run conglomerates in the GCC.

Robert Half


Research from this recruitment firm indicates that HR directors in the country are witnessing a return of salary inflation, for existing employees and when seeking to recruit new candidates.

Their study released in the second quarter of this year revealed that two in five (40 per cent) HR directors say they are operating in a job market where salaries are increasing, with no HR directors surveyed reporting a deflationary wage environment.

On average HR directors predict salaries for existing employees will increase by 6.17 per cent in the next 12 months, with 43 per cent of companies anticipating an average wage increase of over 5 per cent.

According to their 2016 Salary Guide, the pay hike will range depending on the role, expertise and the sector among other variables.

For example, it is auditors and HR professionals in the UAE who can expect to see the fattest increments coming their way.

These executives are likely to receive the highest salary increase of 8.9 per cent in 2016 with higher than average pay rises within accounting and finance for roles in large companies (2.9 per cent).

Korn Ferry

Predictions made by Korn Ferry, an organizational advisory firm, revealed that employees in the UAE are likely to see a 5 per cent increase in their incomes next year. However, if inflation is taken into account, the real growth in salaries will only be 0.9 per cent, down from 2.8 per cent in 2014.

Growth in real earnings in GCC countries will average 2.3 per cent. The highest will be in Oman, at 3.1 per cent, followed by Qatar (2.9 per cent), Bahrain (2.7 per cent), Saudi Arabia (2.6 per cent) and Kuwait (1.6 per cent).

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